Another Unemotional World Series, I Guess

I don’t know if there’s some sort of baseball award for most blown opportunities in a series, but the Yankees really deserve it for this year’s ALCS.

I won’t bother researching the Bill James stats or whatever they are to see if they set a record for men left on base or for the lowest batting average with runners in scoring position… but it sure feels like it. And defensively they were certainly erratic.

And give it up to the Astros – they took advantage of every mistake, made the most of practically every opportunity they had, sparkled in the field, and simply carried themselves like the team to beat. Too many of the Yankees looked confused and tired. A lot of times you can predict the winners of these things just by sensing the mood and attitude.

So I’ll watch what looks like to be a great matchup between the Astros and Nationals. Both teams have a pair of amazing starting pitchers, and I wonder if Nats manager Dave Martinez will do what he did to the Dodgers and stagger his pair of aces so that they don’t face the aces on the Astros. I guess we’ll see.

I’d have to give the edge to the Astros (who I figured to win it all once they signed Greinke, to be honest… but I have to root for my team and hope for the best… that’s what fandom is all about). The Astros have better hitting and balance, and probably a more reliable bullpen.

Yankees off-season will be interesting. I’m thinking they let Encanarcion go. Sabathia is retiring. I’m not sure if they’ll re-sign Gregorius with Andujar due back & the team overflowing with infielders, although I’d love to see him return. But with Urshela becoming what he has, and Voit doing well, and the wonderful addition of LeMehieu (probably the best move they made) along with future HOF Gleyber Torres out there… well, it’s a bit crowded.

What would I like to see in the off-season? Well, signing Garret Cole would sure be nice, although right now the 2020 starting rotation looks to be Severino – Tanaka – German – Paxton – Montgomery, and that’s not too bad. Bettances should return to the bullpen, too. But they can spend a billion dollars on free agents for all I care. I’m not paying for tickets and get to watch free on TV. Spend, spend, spend, I say!

Although all the “ifs” involved in that or any roster set up rely on avoiding the never-ending injuries that plagued nearly the entire team this year, so I think what I really want to see during the offseason is what I’ve wanted to see since maybe late April, that being for them to FIRE THE ENTIRE GOD DAMN STRENGTH AND TRAINING STAFF. Whatever the hell they’re doing, they’re doing in wrong. Guys miss half the year injured, like Judge – or the entire year like Stanton, only to come back and strain themselves AGAIN doing ordinary baseball stuff like running to first or swinging a bat. It’s ridiculous.

Another off-season move they should seriously consider is trading Gary Sanchez for pitching and prospects. They have other catchers who are perfectly fine, and the more I watched him this post-season the more I think he costs more than he provides, even when he hit better this year.

Cutting loose Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird might be imminent as well.

So now to watch the World Series as merely a fan of the sport. Less stressful to be sure, but I don’t think it will affect my alcohol consumption during the games.

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I Could Watch This All Day: Cats In Therapy

It sounds like the guy in those “Dear Kitten” commercials. Or maybe that’s what all cats really sound like when they speak proper English.

They probably all are able to speak proper English, too, and simply choose not to. After all, they’re cats.

Football Picks: Weekend of October 19, 2019

Improved a little last week, so hopefully it’ll be a big MO-MENTUM builder into this week, where I’m exclusively picking college games. None of the NFL spreads catch my eye, sorry.

Went 7-4-1 last week for season totals of 35-31-3. Barely above .500. Gotta add to that… so here goes.

Georgia State plus 4 against Army (and don’t you DARE question my patriotism!)

Central Michigan by 10 1/2 over Bowling Green

UCF by 33 over East Carolina

Cincinnati by 17 1/2 over Tulsa

Texas by 21 1/2 over Kansas

Boise State by 7 over BYU

LSU by 17 1/2 over Mississippi State

Ole Miss plus 5 1/2 against Texas A&M

North Carolina by 3 1/2 over Virginia Tech

Appalachian State by 15 over LA Monroe

Penn State by 8 1/2 over Michigan

Best bets out of those, I’d say… are Central Michigan, UCF, Boise State, LSU, Appalachian State and Penn State. Those are the teams I’d probably mix up in a few permutations for parlays.

Friday Art: Madonna & Child With Putto by Fiorentino Rosso (1522)

Mannerist paintings from the late Renaissance can often be a little bizarre, with long necks and weirdly shaped bodies… but this one, with it’s matching clown faced Jesus & Mary, has got to be my favorite.

I can’t believe a church actually hung this up after commissioning it. I guess I can understand whatever Tsar bought it for the Hermitage where it remains today. Hell, I’d put this on my wall just for laughs.

Jesus as baby Danny Bonaduce after the accident? Works for me.

Rosso came from Florence, but left Italy after one of the numerous sacks of Rome in the 1500s and wound up getting a steady position at the court of Francis I, the King of France.

To be fair, some of his other work is quite good – Descent From The Cross (1521) is considered his masterpiece, and it looks quite modern.

The stiffness of those bodies, the sharp lines and the colors reminds me of some Twentieth Century mural art. Here’s another one in the same style, Moses Defending The Daughters of Jethro, from 1523:

Same color palette, but this time those stiff bodies are slightly curvier.

Make them even more curvy, and I think you wind up with Thomas Hart Benton, which is why I find some of Rosso’s work so modern:

I mean, look at Benton’s People of Chilmark from 1920 – brighter colors, yeah, curvier bodies… but somehow the same vibe.

Even if Charlton Heston fought off those goat herders (including a young Mike Connors) without getting nekkid.

But Benton could have never come up with this kisser

Maybe Todd Phillips will make his dark-origins Taxi Driver-derivative film. Bethlehem as 1970s New York. I think it works, don’t you?

In the meantime, I’ll never tire of wondering what Rosso’s 1522 audience thought of his depiction of the Madonna & Child. Was there some sort of Susan Sontag-let’s-appreciate-kitsch movement lost to history? Or did they just think the world was ending and it didn’t matter anyway?

Whatevs. I’m glad it’s still around.

Football Picks For The Weekend of October 12-13, 2019

Watching an unemotional baseball playoff right now (Cards ? Nats? I don’t care…. waiting for the Yankees to take on the – gulp – Astros tomorrow. Tho Sanchez is pitching a real beaut…) so I ran some numbers and came up with some mostly college football picks and one pro pick. Last week I did well with college and crap with pro, so I’m feelin’ the burn. Worked out to 6-6 for the week, season totals 28-27-2. May as well flip a coin.

EXCEPT FOR THIS WEEK, WHEN I WILL GO 12-0!!!!!

Let’s start with taking Texas +10 1/2 at home against Oklahoma, in what ought to be a decent game.

Central Michigan by 10 over New Mexico State

Missouri by 12 over Ole Miss

Mississippi State by 6 1/2 over Tennessee

UNLV +15 against Vanderbilt

Wisconsin by 10 1/2 over Michigan State

Texas A&M +17 against Alabama (I think they’ll lose but beat the spread)

Florida Atlantic by 11 1/2 over Mid Tennessee State

UAB by 12 over UTSA

Notre Dame by 10 1/2 over USC

Wyoming +4 against SDSU in a game I think they can win outright

And my sole NFL pick – the Seahawks by 1 1/2 over the Browns.

If I had to make a parlay play, I guess I’d group Central Michigan, Missouri, UAB, Notre Dame, Wyoming and the Seahawks. Those are probably the picks I feel best about.

Although I’m still down with a cold and don’t feel great altogether….

Caveat emptor.

Friday Art: Self Portrait With Doctor Arrieta by Francisco Goya (1820)

I’m home with a cold today, mostly resting.

Or trying to rest, while I keep one eye on the fire burning many miles away and another eye on the chance that my electricity might be turned off, since I’m in an area of North Korea California where they’re allowed to turn off people’s power so that they don’t have to pay for fires their unmaintained equipment causes.

Gee, I wish I had connections like that, don’t you?

So today’s theme is “feeling sick.” And while I’m not a victim of what may have actually been plague in Goya’s painting of Arrieta saving his life (which is what the inscription reads). Arrieta had studied plague and yellow fever in North Africa around this time, so it’s a plausible theory. Or, Goya was already in questionable health and was in his 70s, so he might have had a cold like mine and simply felt like he was gonna die.

Look at the doc, making the house call and also playing nurse – holding up the ailing Goya as he grips his bed sheet, while trying to get that glass of what I assume is medicine down as shadowy figures observe in the background.

Are they maids or servants? Doctor’s assistants? Ghosts and demons awaiting Goya, perhaps… sounds like something he’d throw in there.

Arietta would cure Goya, who’d live another 8 years. Goya painted this as a gift for Arietta. Hopefully he also paid his bill.

Maybe I’ll muster up enough energy to make some more mediocre football picks in another post later. Or maybe I’ll just take a nap.

Zen Graffiti & A Book Safari

Someone painted this on a fence where I parked in downtown Ventura today.

It was like getting a message from God as to the meaning of my life.

Especially after I ordered fish tacos for lunch & got a double order without realizing it until they handed me the tray.

Did I acknowledge the mistake and have them take one order back?

Nope.

I ATE THEM BOTH.

Because…. as the fence says….

Anyway, I trekked to Santa Paula & Ventura today for a nature walk of sorts through library sales and thrift stores, mostly looking for books. Call it my reaction to going to a gigantic estate sale I saw advertised, featuring pictures of over 10,000 (yes, that’s right) books for sale… the vast majority art and music books since the sale was for some old jazz musician… and when I got there, a handwritten sign reading “All Books Have Sold, Sorry” greeted me.

“Yup, some guy brought a truck this morning and bought ’em all,” the guy told me.

I HATE EVERYTHING.

So, compensation today. A nice leisurely drive for a bunch of different stores.

Got a couple of nice cookbooks – another Rick Bayless Mexican book (Mexico One Plate At A Time), a cuisine I really ought to cook more often authentically. I’ve cooked from a couple of his other books and the results were decent, so why not. Also an autographed Chinese cookbook from some restaurant in San Francisco – The China Moon Cookbook by Barbara Tropp – that won me after I read through some of the rather elaborate recipes, but found recipes for Chinese dishes I’d certainly order off the menu that I know I don’t have in other books.

Also a pristine illustrated hardback of a book I’ve got in beaten-up paperback form, Neil MacGregor’s Shakespeare’s Restless World along with a tell-all about the art world book – Tales From The Art Crypt by Richard Feigen.

And then, my PSYCHIC MOMENT – for no reason at all while shaving this morning, I thought of Steve Martin’s Cruel Shoes, the collection of nonsense writings he published at the peak of his hot-streak-rise back in 1979 – and I found a first edition of it in a thrift store today and figured that the cosmos was telling me to buy it.

How else did the cosmos communicate with me? Well, for absolutely NO reason, two of the thrift stores on my carefully mapped-out and Yelp reviewed list were closed today, and another one was simply GONE, replaced by a ballet studio. BUT – as I drove down those particular streets back in my route, I spotted ANOTHER thrift store that was NOT on my list and stopped in….

…. and it was run by a Cat rescue and adoption charity!

No store cat, unfortunately, but I gave ’em a nice donation and told them to KEEP HELPING KITTIES.

And now I’m home, so it’s back to drinking and sports.

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend. And I hope you’re helping kitties.

Friday Art: Portrait of Theodore Duret by Edouard Villiard (1912)

Vuillard was a member of the Nabis, a group of French painters at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries interested in composing pictures mixing tons of colors and patterns, mostly to create interior scenes inspired by Japanese prints. Later on, he painted more realistic scenes, although he continued to fill his canvases with a multitude of vibrant colors.

Duret, the subject of this portrait, was an art critic who wrote kindly of impressionists and post-impressionists and fauvists and Nabis and other assorted then-contemporary painters. With other critics often savaging them, I can see why Vuillard paints Duret so positively. He’s got his room filled with papers stacked high, some paintings on the wall – including a representation of Whistler’s portrait of Duret as a younger man reflected in the mirror in the upper right.

In a way, this creates a narrative of sorts for Duret’s life – we see that fuzzy mirror image of the portrait of the young man, well dressed in dark tails, hat in hand, ready to go out and review some piece of high culture, maybe. And now he sits as an older accomplished man, dignified with stacks of papers and books across his desk.

And most importantly – he’s got a cat in his lap. The BEST sign of success there is. And a hat-tip to Vuillard for capturing, in those impressionistic brush strokes, the annoyed look on the cat’s face that her routine has been interrupted by posing for the artist.

Dunno… I guess I sorta see myself in that painting. Just an old dude with a kitty, in a room piled high with books and papers. Life goals, y’know? Meow.

Here’s a bonus Vuillard, I like this one a lot because of it’s bright colors – and you can tell he’s gotten a bit more realistic with it, La Salle Clarac from 1922.

Football Picks: Weekend of October 5-6, 2019

Here’s what I often do: Take a 12 oz glass and throw 3-4 ice cubes in it. Then, I add about 2-3 finger widths of Jack Daniels or Bulleit Rye. Then maybe a teaspoon of lemon juice, and top it off with some fresh brewed iced tea. (Then drink, obviously).

After my performance in picking games last week, I might need to do this repeatedly. Good thing I get those giganto bottles of JD and Bulleit at Costco.

Started out well, felt great – got my first 3 picks… and then the remaining 7 went sour. Bah. Season totals are barely above even, at 22-21-2.

So this week, it will ALL TURN AROUND and I can drink my whiskey concoctions in total bliss. My stomach will thank me.

College Games:

Boston College +6 against Louisville (they did it for me last week…)

SMU -13 over Tulsa

Georgia -25 over Tennessee

Navy +3 1/2 against Air Force

Kansas +32 against Oklahoma (I think Oklahoma wins, but does not cover)

Arkansas State -7 1/2 over Georgia State

NFL:

Jaguars +3 1/2 against the Panthers (I think the Jags will win outright)

Vikings – 5 1/2 over the Giants

Saints -3 over the Buccaneers

Chargers – 6 1/2 over the Broncos (risky…. but Broncos are awful on the road)

Cowboys – 3 1/2 over the Packers (great matchup, and I think Cowboys win it)

Chiefs -11 over the Colts (another risky one.. Chiefs might win without covering, but I’ll go for it)

None of these games really jumped out to me as amazingly easy bets, to be honest. If I had to pick my top choices, I’d probably say Arkansas State and the Jaguars, maybe followed by Georgia. But no top picks this week, really.

Here’s a picture of a kitten drinking beer foam. Skoal!

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